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Roberts v. State

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 23, 2018

STEVEN EUGENE ROBERTS, III, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IDAHO, Respondent.

         2018 Opinion No. 15

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Steven Hippler, District Judge.

         Order summarily dismissing petition for post-conviction relief, affirmed.

          Greg S. Silvey, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Mark W. Olson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge

         Steven Eugene Roberts, III, appeals from the district court's order summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief. Roberts argues that the district court erred because it created a class of claims that is unreviewable. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         After a bench trial, the district court found Roberts guilty of burglary and arson in the first degree. Roberts then admitted to being a persistent violator. The district court imposed a unified thirty-year sentence, with a minimum period of confinement of ten years, for arson in the first degree and a concurrent unified ten-year sentence, with a minimum period of confinement of five years, for burglary. Roberts timely appealed. This Court affirmed Roberts' conviction. State v. Roberts, Docket No. 42534 (Ct. App. Sept. 17, 2015) (unpublished).

         Roberts then filed a petition for post-conviction relief setting forth numerous claims. The State moved for summary dismissal, which was granted. Specific to Roberts' claim that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance by not pursuing issues on appeal as fundamental error, the district court dismissed pursuant to Mintun v. State, 144 Idaho 656, 662, 168 P.3d 40, 46 (Ct. App. 2007). Other claims were dismissed pursuant to Bias v. State, 159 Idaho 696, 702, 365 P.3d 1050, 1056 (Ct. App. 2015), on the basis that they were "barred as forfeited because [they] could have been raised on direct appeal." Roberts timely appealed.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A petition for post-conviction relief initiates a proceeding that is civil in nature. Idaho Code § 19-4907; Rhoades v. State, 148 Idaho 247, 249, 220 P.3d 1066, 1068 (2009); State v. Bearshield, 104 Idaho 676, 678, 662 P.2d 548, 550 (1983); Murray v. State, 121 Idaho 918, 921, 828 P.2d 1323, 1326 (Ct. App. 1992). Like a plaintiff in a civil action, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of evidence the allegations upon which the request for post-conviction relief is based. Goodwin v. State, 138 Idaho 269, 271, 61 P.3d 626, 628 (Ct. App. 2002). A petition for post-conviction relief differs from a complaint in an ordinary civil action. Dunlap v. State, 141 Idaho 50, 56, 106 P.3d 376, 382 (2004). A petition must contain much more than a short and plain statement of the claim that would suffice for a complaint under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(1). Rather, a petition for post-conviction relief must be verified with respect to facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner, and affidavits, records, or other evidence supporting its allegations must be attached or the petition must state why such supporting evidence is not included with the petition. I.C. § 19-4903. In other words, the petition must present or be accompanied by admissible evidence supporting its allegations, or the petition will be subject to dismissal. Wolf v. State, 152 Idaho 64, 67, 266 P.3d 1169, 1172 (Ct. App. 2011).

         Idaho Code Section 19-4906 authorizes summary dismissal of a petition for post-conviction relief, either pursuant to a motion by a party or upon the court's own initiative, if it appears from the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions and agreements of fact, together with any affidavits submitted, that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When considering summary dismissal, the district court must construe disputed facts in the petitioner's favor, but the court is not required to accept either the petitioner's mere conclusory allegations, unsupported by admissible evidence, or the petitioner's conclusions of law. Roman v. State, 125 Idaho 644, 647, 873 P.2d 898, 901 (Ct. App. 1994); Baruth v. Gardner, 110 Idaho 156, 159, 715 P.2d 369, 372 (Ct. App. 1986). Moreover, the district court, as the trier of fact, is not constrained to draw inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion for summary disposition; rather, the district court is free to arrive at the most probable inferences to be drawn from uncontroverted evidence. Hayes v. State, 146 Idaho 353, 355, 195 P.3d 712, 714 (Ct. App. 2008). Such inferences will not be disturbed on appeal if the uncontroverted evidence is sufficient to justify them. Id.

         Claims may be summarily dismissed if the petitioner's allegations are clearly disproven by the record of the criminal proceedings, if the petitioner has not presented evidence making a prima facie case as to each essential element of the claims, or if the petitioner's allegations do not justify relief as a matter of law. Kelly v. State, 149 Idaho 517, 521, 236 P.3d 1277, 1281 (2010); DeRushé v. State, 146 Idaho 599, 603, 200 P.3d 1148, 1152 (2009). Thus, summary dismissal of a claim for post-conviction relief is appropriate when the court can conclude, as a matter of law, that the petitioner is not entitled to relief even with all disputed facts construed in the petitioner's favor. For this ...


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